Sherwood’s Villa in FA Cup semis after win over rivals West Brom
West Bromwich Albion were left to rue poor first half finishing as Aston Villa struck twice in the second half to ensure they progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, in what turned into a lively West Midlands derby.
In the opening few minutes of the match, Saido Berahino was gifted an outstanding opportunity when Matt Lowton failed to clear and the striker ran through before firing an angled shot at goalkeeper Shay Given. The Baggies should have gone a ahead moments later when a well-worked move involving Craig Dawson and Craig Gardner resulted in Brown Ideye blazing over from close range. His attempt to place the ball instead of putting his laces through was clearly the wrong decision.
The hosts looked scared in the first half and created very little, despite plenty of industry from Scott Sinclair and attempts from Fabian Delph to try and dictate play, however Gabriel Agbonlahor appeared unwilling to make runs in behind the Baggies backline.
Ideye went close again, and should have done better with a header which he seemed to completely miscue, while Chris Brunt’s deflected volley almost troubled Given as it narrowly avoided the crossbar.
Clearly manager Timm Sherwood’s team talk had quite the effect on Villa who looked a different team in the second period and came out firing. Inspired by their captain Delph, they bombarded Boaz Myhill’s goal and it wasn’t long until they were ahead.
It was Delph who was in space on the edge of the area, slightly to left and, receiving the ball and controlling it, drilled shot low and hard past Myhill at his near post. West Brom rallied, though Sherwood’s side stood firm, creating more opportunities of their own, as Sinclair time and again crafted chances.
With 10 minutes to go, Claudio Yacob received a second yellow card after a challenge with Leandro Bacuna, who slid in and hurt himself, though the replay suggested the Baggies man may have been unlucky.
Capitalising on having the advantage, and with the visitors pressing for the equaliser, Villa struck on the counter attack, as Sinclair finished intelligently to seal the match. The referee’s last act was to hand out yet another questionable second yellow, after deciding that Jack Grealish had dived much to Sherwood’s incredulity.
There followed a partial pitch invasion as home supporters aired their frustrations and on the final whistle the rest of the crowd followed suit with Villa through to the last four.